Imperial Dental Specialist Centre Sdn Bhd was fined RM320,000 by the Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur today after it was found guilty on five counts with causing the death of former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s son-in-law, Syed Alman Zain Syed Alwi, during a dental treatment there.
Judge Harmi Thamri Mohamad @ Shaharuddin made the ruling against the centre, which was represented by a member of its board of directors, Dr Alice Wong Yen Lin, 47, as the person summoned, after finding the defence having failed to raise reasonable doubts in the case.
“The court takes into account factors that are consistent with the provisions of the law to be a lesson and an example for all medical practitioners to comply with the Malaysian Health Ministry’s standards,” he said before handing down the sentence.
The court allowed the dental centre to pay the fine in stages, with RM25,000 to be made today, and the balance of RM295,000 from Jan 21 to Jun 28 next year.
Wong was also ordered to pay prosecution cost of RM5,000.
The specialist dental centre was initially charged with nine counts pertaining to Syed Alman Zain’s death, but was ordered to enter defence into five of the charges.
They were for the second, third, sixth, seventh and eighth charges, while the centre was acquitted and discharged of the first, fourth, fifth and ninth charges on grounds that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case.
On the second and third count, the centre, as a licence holder, was alleged to have failed to ensure that Noor Azima Muhamad Nuwi, 26, was qualified to conduct an orthopantomogram on Syed Alman Zain and also with failing to keep and maintain an 'employee's register'.
On the sixth count, the centre was charged with failing to provide the necessary measures to save Syed Alman Zain's life, namely by not providing oxygen.
For the seventh count, the centre was charged with failing to submit to the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) – which received the patient under emergency transfer – a copy of all the patient's medical records required under Section 31 (1) (d) of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.
On the eighth count, the centre was charged with failing to take adequate steps to protect healthcare professionals and the clinic's environment against biological hazards, as required under Rule 49 (5) of the Private Healthcare Facilities & Services (Private Hospitals and Other Private Healthcare Facilities) Regulations 2006.
The centre was acquitted of four counts pertaining to the administering of anaesthesia and drug labelling.
All the offences were committed at a clinic located on Jalan Telawi, Bangsar Baru, Brickfields, between 6pm and 9.05pm, May 26 to June 2, 2016.
Seven counts were filed under Section 31 (4), 39 (2), 40 (4) and 117 (2) (b) (i) of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, which provides for a fine ranging from RM30,000 to RM300,000, upon conviction.
Two other counts were filed under Regulation 49 (7) and 245 (6) of the Private Healthcare Facilities & Services (Private Hospitals and Other Private Healthcare Facilities) Regulations 2006, which provides for a fine of up to RM10,000, or three months' jail, or both, upon conviction.
Earlier, deputy public prosecutor Nadia Zulkefli, who prosecuted, asked the court to impose heavy sentence because the case involved a human life and involved public interest.
"Although charged for the first time, the clinic was faced with five charges. As a result of the lackadaisical attitude of the clinic, it has given a bad name to the dental institution,” she added.
Lawyer P Sreekant, representing the dental centre, said the clinic had made many improvements since the incident.
A total of 13 prosecution witnesses and two defence witnesses were called to testify during a hearing of the case which began on March 6, 2017.
Syed Alman Zain, husband of Nurulhidayah – the eldest daughter of Zahid – reportedly became unconscious while undergoing treatment at the dental centre, and was referred to UMMC where he was pronounced dead.